The Federal Government has given terminal operators and freight forwarders operating in the country two months grace period to comply with the implementation of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), payable to Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) or face sanctions.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated this in Lagos recently during a Ministerial meeting with representatives of non-compliant terminal operators and accredited freight forwarding associations.
Dr. Ajani, observed that following non-compliance since POF was instituted in February 24, 2022, the Ministry will hence demand a report on the level of compliance at the end of the two months period (June -July), after which it will consider necessary sanctions against defaulting terminal operators, who release cargoes for which POF has not been paid for.
“After two months, and it is not complied with, we will now begin to look at sanctions. You can’t come to a country and choose the process of engagement. You have rules in every country on how businesses should be run and you have to comply with that. We don’t have any exemption for anybody. Businesses have to be run based on the rules of Nigeria,” she said.
According to her, the government will not compromise in its collection of revenue and getting port operators to obey lawful directives aimed at nation building through economic sustenance, hence the directive that terminal operators are to ensure that no cargo leaves their custody without proof of POF payment. This is even as she reminded affected organizations to commence the processes of remitting to CRFFN, the arrears of uncollected POF funds from their recorded transactions.
She, therefore, enjoined stakeholders, most especially leadership of freight forwarding associations such as Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) to sensitize their members with a view to ensuring full compliance with the POF regime.
“I want to assure you that the Federal Ministry of Transportation will put in place sufficient guideline/policy to ensure that funds realized from the POF will be devoted to professionalization/capacity building to boost the competitiveness of freight forwarders in Nigeria,” Ajani stressed.
Ajani, further noted that integrating the POF will promote global competitiveness and build capacity for effective participation in the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) regime.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was invited to the meeting to keep the anti-graft agency abreast with the issues.
Speaking earlier, the Registrar, CRFFN, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu, thanked the Honourable Minister of Transportation and the Permanent Secretary for supporting the development of the Council, including the POF collection issue, adding that they have helped it surmount its copious challenges.
The Registrar also informed that to reflect the agency’s preparedness, POF payment has been electronically simplified and could be actualized in 3 minutes from any location, including usage of internet enabled mobile devices.
Nwakohu also commended terminal operators and freight forwarders that are already complying with the POF and prayed for total commitment from others.
At the end of the Lagos meeting, the non-compliant terminal operators and representatives of freight forwarders assured the Ministry and CRFFN of their resolve to obey all directives regarding POF before the end of the two months deadline.
This information was disseminated via a press statement issued by the Director of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Eric Ojiekwe.